New York Yankees: Did They Make the Right Move in Letting Zack Greinke Get Away?

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2010

Zack Greinke is a Brewer. Cliff Lee is a Phillie. Your move, Yanks.
Zack Greinke is a Brewer. Cliff Lee is a Phillie. Your move, Yanks.

Zack Greinke was traded to the Brewers for a host of minor league prospects on Sunday, and if that doesn't do much for you, don't sweat it. Nobody else seemed to care much either.

Viewed through the prism of pure talent, Greinke should have been seen as every bit Lee's equal in terms of desirability this offseason. They're both Cy Young Award winners, each gifted with pitching repertoires that straddle the fine line between power and finesse.

The 32-year-old Lee's appeal is primarily derived from his success in the postseason, a stage that Greinke, 27, has never had the opportunity to perform on. Can't exactly fault him for that.

And yet when Lee chose the Phillies last week, you never heard a peep about the Yankees getting involved in the Greinke trade talks. Even if the Giants didn't pull a Chernobyl before our eyes against the Eagles on Sunday, it's unlikely sports talk radio would be burning up with calls for Brian Cashman's head for letting Greinke get away.

Of course, this can all be traced back to concerns about Greinke's mental makeup. He left baseball for a time in 2006 and was subsequently treated for depression and social anxiety disorder. For a guy who once said that every day felt like a gray day, it was deduced that New York and Zack Greinke was a nasty mix.

SI's Joe Posnanski wrote a tremendous piece about Greinke, who he covered since Kansas City drafted him ahead of Prince Fielder in 2002. Posnanski was sympathetic to Greinke's obtuse nature, and warned that it was unwise to assume what's going on in the pitcher's head since even those that have known him for years have no idea.

Sure, Greinke could completely wilt the first time he gives up a home run at Yankee Stadium, shrinking from the spotlight faster than Rivers Cuomo after releasing Pinkerton. But is it fair to assume it? More to the point, was it the right move for the Yankees to pass on one of the league's great young pitchers based on the assumption he'd fail mentally?

That's the $1 million question, and even if Greinke wins 60 games for the Brewers the next three years, we'll never know the answer. Like trying to get inside Greinke's head, it's impossible.

The Yankees have watched Ed Whitson, Kenny Rogers, Kevin Brown, Denny Neagle, Randy Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Jared Wright, Carl Pavano, and yes, A.J. Burnett all fail on the mound after attaining success elsewhere. In most of those cases, the pressures of New York were cited as a primary factor.

It's hard to fault the Yankees for being gun shy, not when you factor in this history and what it would have cost them in prospects to land Greinke. But as this most frustrating of offseasons rolls on, you wonder what the next move is.

Cashman said last week that Plan B was patience. It's a good and logical practice in theory, but in reality, other teams got better this month while the Yankees spun their wheels.

Patience has its place, but sooner or later the Yankees are going to have to make their play. The clock is ticking.

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at dhanzus@gmail.com. Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.